Content Strategy – Multiple Audiences

Content management is simple when everyone who reads your document is the same. A school policy that students wear uniforms, for example, is pretty simple to write: this is the rule, this how we measure the rule, here is how we enforce the rule, and here are the exceptions to the rule. 

Students now know what is expected of them.

Parents, however, might want some justification for the rule before they purchase a whole new wardrobe. What are the benefits? Where can I purchase clothing that complies?

Teachers and other staff, charged with enforcement, might want to know what variances might be excepted, which things are left to their discretion, and whether or not they can give a warning.

One policy, three different ways to communicate it, and not everyone should see all of it (students shouldn’t know all of the variances that staff takes into consideration, for example).

Multiple Audiences Complicate Things

In franchising, a line level employee needs detail about how to run things in the kitchen. The franchise owner needs to know the key performance points and early warning signs things aren’t being done properly. Front of the house people need to know how place orders, how long to expect things to come from the kitchen, how to make them right if they come out wrong.

Three audiences for what is essentially the same procedures. You can either:

  • Tell everyone everything – one manual that gets bigger with each procedure, OR
  • Segment manuals based on role (front of house, back of house, training manual, operations manual) – which means managing multiple documents

Liability or Asset?

Multiple static manuals, with procedures duplicated across them, are tough to manage. They get out of synch, contradict each other, and erode your brand through inconsistency. Documents create risk to your business by being incorrect.

A good content strategy, coupled with a content management system, will help you keep these straight. Change once, change everywhere. Include things for some audiences, exclude things for other audiences. A good plan will make changes easier and documents more consistent.